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  1. #1
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    Default Why the use of the IPA

    Hi

    I am concerned about the begining readers in China having to learn two alphabets the English alphabet and the 40 sound symbols of the IPA.

    It seems to me that much more could be accomplished by teaching the sounds of the English letters and their combinations.

    The children now seem to be able to read the IPA but cannot read or pronounce English.

    I think it is a waste of time and resources.

    What do you all think?

    Peace and Unity

    Roger

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Why the use of the IPA

    Unfortunately, while English pronunciation has changed a lot since the days when Samuel Johnson wrote his famous dictionary, English spelling hasn't. Even native speakers need help sometimes. Would you know how to pronounce "epitome"? To look at it, you'd think that it was "EP-i-tome", but actually it's "i-PIT-o-mee". Many words are spelled the same but pronounced differently: for example, "read" is pronounced one way when it's in the present tense, and a different way when it's the past tense -- but both forms are spelled the same.

    Also, most dictionaries use the IPA to indicate pronunciation, and it is an international standard, used to describe the pronunciation of other languages as well.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Why the use of the IPA

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    Unfortunately, while English pronunciation has changed a lot since the days when Samuel Johnson wrote his famous dictionary, English spelling hasn't. Even native speakers need help sometimes. Would you know how to pronounce "epitome"? To look at it, you'd think that it was "EP-i-tome", but actually it's "i-PIT-o-mee". Many words are spelled the same but pronounced differently: for example, "read" is pronounced one way when it's in the present tense, and a different way when it's the past tense -- but both forms are spelled the same.

    So true especialy for words that come into English from other languages yet some of them are mostly regular exept for a small part.

    Also, most dictionaries use the IPA to indicate pronunciation, and it is an international standard, used to describe the pronunciation of other languages as well.
    I don't know about most dictionaries but many dictionaries have there own phonetic symbols.

    But that's not what concerns me.

    In America we learn the IPA in University or College while studying linquestics. But why burden 7 and 8 year old English learners With the need to learn 2 alphabets?

    There are no trade books, newspapers, magazines or even commic books that are written in the IPA. Students really need to learn to read and speak written English. That is my concern.

    I have been teaching English in China for 6 years now and I find that they cannot read English and that they are not realy fluent in the IPA enough for it to be usfull. This leaves them with a real handicap when it comes to both reading and speaking Englis.

    When Firefox did the last upgreade I lost my speller. Please excuse the typos and misspellings.

    Peace and Unity

    Roger

  4. #4
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Why the use of the IPA

    There are alternatives- phonics and synthestic phonics use the letters: http://www.usingenglish.com/links/Re...hetic_Phonics/

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    Default Re: Why the use of the IPA

    Well, most German schoolchildren learn the IPA and have little trouble with it. I don't know how English is actually taught in China, but if they're having trouble reading and speaking, my suspicion is that they're being taught grammar rather than reading and speaking skills. (That's the case in, for example, Korea, according to some of my Korean friends.) I just think it's a little hasty to blame the IPA. It may not be so much the fact that IPA is being taught, but the way it is being taught.

    I've actually found IPA useful to make students aware of certain phonemes in English, particularly where the spelling is unhelpful. But then I've never tried to teach the entire IPA; rather, I've picked out certain symbols and said, "OK, this represents the sound in 'bed', and this represents the sound in 'bad'. Now listen very carefully to these words and put them in the right column." It doesn't sound like a useful exercise, but Germans commonly confuse the two sounds and often make spelling or even grammar mistakes because of it (e.g. confusing "than" and "then").

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Why the use of the IPA

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    Well, most German schoolchildren learn the IPA and have little trouble with it. I don't know how English is actually taught in China, but if they're having trouble reading and speaking, my suspicion is that they're being taught grammar rather than reading and speaking skills. (That's the case in, for example, Korea, according to some of my Korean friends.) I just think it's a little hasty to blame the IPA. It may not be so much the fact that IPA is being taught, but the way it is being taught.

    I've actually found IPA useful to make students aware of certain phonemes in English, particularly where the spelling is unhelpful. But then I've never tried to teach the entire IPA; rather, I've picked out certain symbols and said, "OK, this represents the sound in 'bed', and this represents the sound in 'bad'. Now listen very carefully to these words and put them in the right column." It doesn't sound like a useful exercise, but Germans commonly confuse the two sounds and often make spelling or even grammar mistakes because of it (e.g. confusing "than" and "then").

    Most words in English are regulat in pronunciation. I agree that too much emphasis is givin in China to grammer.

    Let me give an example of the misuse of the IPA. Phonics is needed to learn to read in English and to learn to speak the words one can read. There are very few truly irregular words in English. But I digress.

    5 years ago I was teaching in a primary school 2nd and 3rd year. I was introducing the sounds of the English alphabet to my students in preperation to reading a decodeable selection of text. The students were doing well and understanding the differnce between letter names and short and long vowels. Their main techer came running up to me and said "you can't do that we are teaching them pinying and the English sounds will only confuse them". They use pinying to teach Chinese and it has differnt sounds for some the the alphabetic charactors and their combiniations.

    I asked how do you then teach them to pronounce English words. It appears that they use the IPA for that purpose and not the sounds of the alphabet and their combinations. Whenever they introduce an English word they put the IPA symbols beneath it.

    The kids had no truble understanding the difference between Chines pronunciation and English pronunciation of the letters. So why complicate things for primary school students.

    When I was studying German our teacher gave us the German sounds of the alphabet to help us to decode words. I realy feel that the same shuld apply in China?

    When did you learn the IPA in primary school or later in High school or College? I realy think it is too much for bigining English learners.

    Peace and Unity

    Roger

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    Default Re: Why the use of the IPA

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    There are alternatives- phonics and synthestic phonics use the letters: http://www.usingenglish.com/links/Re...hetic_Phonics/
    Hi

    Thanks for the reply.

    I am a Synthetic Phonics practitioner. I was very happy to find the above references to Phonics in usinglish.com. I saw few refrences to it in the forum.

    One of the best resources is the RRF boards.

    Peace and Unity

    Roger

  8. #8
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Why the use of the IPA

    Our site tends to focus on adults, so phonics doesn't get much discussion, but we include it in the database as a resource.

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